Nov 13 General Electric Co reached a deal
to sell equipment to Clean Energy Fuels Corp, which is
building out a series of liquefied natural gas fueling stations
for U.S. truckers.
The largest U.S. conglomerate sees liquefied natural gas
equipment as becoming a $1 billion market over the next five
years, said Mike Hosford, general manager of unconventional
resources for GE Oil & Gas.
Clean Energy, which counts T. Boone Pickens as its largest
investor, agreed to buy two GE-made MicroLNG plants to provide
liquefied natural gas for a network of 70 natural gas fueling
stations it is opening at truck stops along U.S. interstate
highways this year, the company said in a statement released on
"We currently have some LNG production facilities, but the
country is going to need more," said Andrew Littlefair, Chief
Executive of Clean Energy, in a statement released on Tuesday.
"These two plants are critical in our next phase (of expansion)
and we are going to need more plants over time."
By the end of 2012, Clean Energy aims to have in place
natural-gas filing stations at existing truck stops on major
highways across the United States, at intervals of roughly 250
miles (400 km) apart.
Next year it aims to boost its count to 150 filling
stations, Littlefair said.
U.S. natural gas production has grown rapidly in recent
years as advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have opened
up new supplies of the fuel. Surging production has driven down
prices, making it a more appealing fuel for everything from
power plants to truck engines made by companies including
Trucks using liquefied natural gas can save about 25 percent
on their fuel costs, Clean Energy estimated, though the engines
add to the cost of the truck.
Having its own conversion plants, which can take natural gas
from pipelines and chill it into the liquefied form used in
trucks will be critical to meeting demand, said GE's Hosford. He
noted that today much liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is produced
by electric power stations at off-peak times.
"As soon as a cold day comes around, the utility is
obligated to supply that gas to generate power for its
customers," Hosford said. "There is not enough LNG capacity in
the United States."
Texas oilman Pickens owns 20.8 percent of Clean Energy,
according to Reuters data.